She’s just a little thing, eleven years old, and cute as a button in her Sunday dress. During the morning service, Kathryn sits with her family, singing songs to Jesus. As the pastor begins his sermon, she locates Amos in her Bible (doesn’t even flinch like most who scramble for the table of contents). Kathryn is ready. Ready to hear from God.
It’s a big ole place, Kathryn’s church, one that seats thousands. The ceiling reaches high, and video screens are larger than life. There are microphones and TV cameras and a full orchestra behind the pulpit. A little girl could get lost in a church like this. Not Kathryn.
When the pastor is done and asks everyone to stand, a hymn plays softly. He invites anyone who’d like to pray to come to the altar. Slowly but surely, people move toward the front of the church, voicing pleas to God: Young mothers, elderly couples, middle-aged men. And Kathryn. Young, tender-hearted Kathryn.
She exits the church pew, leaving the security of family and traveling the journey of obedience. Right now, in this moment, it’s Kathryn and God. There’s no intimidation, insecurity, or embarrassment. All she feels is the urge to kneel before her Father. So she does. With head bowed close to the carpet, Kathryn makes her appeal. She prays for a long time. And, as far as she’s concerned, there’s no one else in the room.
I’m one of thousands who wait patiently, rejoicing at God’s sure presence. Still, Kathryn prays. I wonder what she’s saying and how it sounds, this unjaded, childlike perspective. Then I smile, imagining such sweetness filling the Father’s ears. (I’m smiling even now, picturing the joy of a fervent young prayer approaching the mighty throne.)
Seeing Kathryn kneel, full of faith and sincerity, I am humbled. Am I that brave, to step out quickly and confidently when God calls? Do I care whether or not people are watching? Is my own heart so pliable that when He whispers, I respond?
And so, as Kathryn is joined by her mother at the altar, I begin my own prayer to Father God. Maybe it’s one you’d consider, too:
My loving, gracious, Heavenly Father,
You alone are the reason I have breath. Oh, God, as long as these lungs fill with air, may your praises fill my mouth! How is it that you see me? And hear me? And love me? But you do. In your eyes, through the blood of Jesus, I’m squeaky-clean and innocent, like a brand new baby. Thank you, Father!
Are you smiling, Lord, as Kathryn chats with you? Are you smiling at me? I pray that my heart always beats with yours, enjoying your presence and obeying your direction. Give me grown-up persistence with a heaping dose of child-like faith—Kathryn with extra-large spiritual muscles! 🙂
Bless this young one, God, as she grows up. It’s tough to be a girl, whether she’s eleven or seventeen or twenty-one (or forty-six). Keep her heart tender. Keep mine tender, too. On behalf of all your daughters, help us cling to what you say we are: precious, forgiven, and worthy. Nudge us often to your altar, not guilt-ridden and shameful but grateful and excited.
I love you, Lord. I wonder what you’ll do with a listening heart like Kathryn’s. I wonder where you’ll guide the feet of a million daughters who follow you. Keep us safe on this journey. And thank you, Father, for possibilities and promises, no matter our ages.
[Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4